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Film Review: Terribly Happy ****
by Becky Tan

Robert (Jakob Cedergren) is a one-man police force in the Danish village of Skarrild. This position is a far cry from his job in Copenhagen, but due to prior circumstances he must prove himself in the country. In the beginning he tries to hold on to his big-city habits and morals. Everyone observes him as the outsider that he is. A crazy woman stalks him with tales of her violent marriage; the village doctor tells tales of his predecessor; the men in the bar avoid him. In the end he accepts the local rules for his own survival. The title is, of course, ironic. Nobody is happy and much is terrible. The nightly card games, the flat countryside, the ocean pounding on the coast to reveal a body, the lonely child pushing an empty baby buggy in the dusk. Director Genz said, “The story sounded like a western, a foreigner-comes-to-town-and-all-hell-breaks-loose story. The characters were strangely familiar and the landscape more immediate, than anything I had worked on before.”  I loved the bleakness, the slow speech, the empty fields, and the gradual build-up to an unavoidable catastrophe in which Danish films seem to excel (The Celebration, Adam’s Apples, After the Wedding). Perhaps it’s the close camera work, but I felt as if I were in that village myself, experiencing the same frustrations and making the same bad decisions. This was one of my favourite films at the FilmFest Hamburg. (Becky Tan, BS***1/2, MW****)